Spanish political life in the 1930s was incredibly complicated, with many parties based on political, religious or geographical grounds. Extreme parties of all descriptions commanded strong support and, when the civil war chaotically broke out in 1936, most parties had, or quickly formed, militias. These militias, particularly those of the Republican side, played a key role in the early months of the war, but as the war settled down better trained and organised forces came to dominate, although many militias still played an important part.
As might be expected, uniformity of clothing and weaponry was highly variable. In the anarchist militias the very concept was alien, while the Falange took great pride in their discipline and turnout, much like all fascist groups. While militias fought on all sides during the war (of which there were often more than just two), BUM have promised a set of Requetés and Falangistas, so we will review this set on the basis that it represents those militias that fought against the Nationalists.
When the military coup began in 1936 the government was reluctant to arm the people to help fight it, but many groups armed themselves and in the event were often crucial in defeating local revolts. For many of these militias uniform has perhaps no more than a badge and a hat such as the gorillo cap, and weaponry was whatever came to hand. Many, particularly the anarchists, fought in their working clothes, with items such as the mono (workman's overalls) becoming very popular. These figures have a good range of such clothing, and represent the kind of styles very well. Many items could be painted in khaki to represent military items or many other colours to represent civilian dress, so the potential is considerable. Only the final figure has what is clearly a uniform, which along with his Sam Browne belt makes him a good officer. We thought all the clothing was appropriate for the subject, although there is always scope for saying more could have been included such as the berets and other headgear often seen.
The poses are a fair selection, but what will particularly strike those interested in the war is how familiar many of them are. Clearly many are based on famous photographs from the war - not necessarily of militia - which is a nice touch. Some poses are holding their rifles right at the muzzle, which is strange, and the last figure in the first row was not a favourite of ours, but overall they are OK.
The sculpting is not particularly good on these. These uniforms don't have the kinds of detail that a Napoleonic uniform had, so precise sculpting may not be quite so important, but in areas where detail is more important, such as rifles, it is quite poor and vague. The figures themselves are well proportioned, but they do suffer from a fair bit of flash in places. Still facial expressions are quite good, and it is easy to identify the female Miliciana even if their weapons are largely featureless.
The clumsy English title to this set does not say so but we would suggest this represents Republican militias, and as such does a pretty reasonable job. Some of the figures could also be used for the Nationalist side, but in a conflict where the militias played such a massive part this is a very important collection, although there is still plenty of room for improvement in the sculpting of the figures themselves. The small collection of paper posters and a flag (pictured below) are a nice touch but we would have preferred an extra sprue of figures instead.